Cremations in Mérida up as cemetery space dwindles

With burial plots in short supply, cremations are becoming more common and cost-effective in Yucatán. Above, the General Cemetery in Mérida. Photo: Getty
With burial plots in short supply, cremations are becoming more common and cost-effective in Yucatán. Above, the General Cemetery in Mérida. Photo: Getty
With burial plots in short supply, cremations are becoming more common and cost-effective in Yucatán. Above, the General Cemetery in Mérida. Photo: Getty

Mérida, Yucatán — Cremation rates have nearly doubled in one year as cemetery space has become increasingly rare in the city. 

More than one in 10 funeral arrangements involve incineration this year.

And cremation costs have been reduced by half this year, making the ashes-to-ashes alternative more tempting.

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In some instances, cremation is being used to make space in a mausoleum, with bodies exhumed and incinerated. Or, despite a recent Vatican notice advising against the practice, cremated remains are being scattered. 

Cremations in Mérida

Currently only Cementerio Xoclán has space available, the rest of the city graveyards — cementerios General, Jardines de la Paz, Chuburná and Florido — have reached maximum capacity. 

Xoclán accounts for 90 percent of the burials taking place in Mérida. It has more than 31,000 vaults and a crematorium that was upgraded in 2006.

Between 15 and 20 bodies enter the crematorium each month. The process takes two to three hours. 

Cremation has become more popular elsewhere as well, with nearly half polled in the U.S. saying they were at least “somewhat likely” to choose cremation upon their death.  

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But for the Catholic faithful, the Vatican frowns on scattering ashes or keeping them in an urn on the family mantelpiece. Cremated remains should be kept in a “sacred place” such as a church cemetery, church leaders advise.

The Vatican began opening the doors to cremation in 1963, when it ruled Catholic funeral rites should not be denied to those who had asked to be cremated.

But in recent years, “new ideas” contrary to the Catholic faith have become widespread, the Vatican said. Under new guidelines, pantheism, the worship of nature; naturalism, the idea that all truths are derived from nature, not religion; and nihilism, a deep skepticism about all received truths, as belief systems that preclude a church burial.

With information from Sipse, CNN

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